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2016 is not proving to be a good year for musicians. Here’s a short list of who died, and we’ve only just jumped into May: David Bowie, Paul Kanter, Merle Haggard, Billy Paul, Papa Wemba, “Gato” Barbieri. Phife Dawg, Frank Sinatra, Jr. Lee Andrews, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Keith Emerson, George Martin, John Chilton, Johnny Murphy, Denise Matthews (Vanity), Prince, Dan Hicks, Maurice White, Signe Tole Anderson, Jimmy Bain, Glenn Frey, Dale Griffin, Clarence Reid, Pierre Boulez, Paul Bley…to name but a few.
Am I getting old enough now that my contemporaries and/or the people I worshipped die, or is there something in the air?
It certainly sucks, that’s for sure.
There was a time when some of the people above certainly were royalty to me, the makers of the music of my growing-up, Gods really. Figuring out now that they were not more than ten or so years older than me, back in my teens when I was listening to their music, trying to emulate their style as much as sound, I thought them so so much older…actually never even considered their ages as they seemed not even born of terra firma really.
Maybe adulation is a provenance for the young, when you are still wide-eyed, see so many years ahead you can’t calculate five years in the future, let alone the next week. When you still have dreams to be dreamed that these men and women seem to be living for you.
Yes, we still have their music, their contributions to fashion, their images writ large on video or across our album covers (and for those too young to know what an album cover is, your life is poorer because of this ignorance, believe me). But things will never be the same with these men and women gone and the many more I haven’t named who worked in other arts that we lost this year already. And from what I have been hearing and seeing in the past decade or more, their like will never come this way again, I dare say.
Cynicism? Sour grapes? Ignorance on my own part to all the wonderful stuff being produced these days? Nah. The greats are dying in great number out there and we have nobody to take their place.